SCOTLAND UNDER-20s coach Stevie Scott has named his initial squad for the Six Nations which kicks off next Friday night against Wales in Colwyn Bay.
As anticipated, Glasgow Warriors back-row star Matt Fagerson has not been released. Scrum-half Kaleem Barreto and centre Stafford McDowell have limited experience playing in the professional game, having made one appearance each off the bench for the Warriors. Number eight Devante Onojaife has also pro experience having played three minutes off the bench for Northampton Saints against Newcastle Falcons in the Anglo-Welsh Cup in November 2016. But for the vast majority of the squad this is going to be a major – and exciting – step into the unknown.
It is not only at senior level that Scotland have propping issues at the moment. The Under-20s have also had a bit of bad luck at tight-head this week, with Ayr’s Euan McLaren side-lined for at least the Wales match with a hamstring injury picked up during Tuesday night’s training game against the Scotland Club XV and Glasgow Hawks’ Dan York also out with a separated shoulder suffered at training on Monday.
That leaves Finlay Richardson of Edinburgh Academicals, who missed Tuesday’s game with a minor injury, as the key man in anchoring the Scottish scrum. He is primarily a tight-head, although most of his recent starts at club level in National One have been on the loose-head. Similarly, Murphy Walker of Strathallan School, can play on either side of the scrum. Both are exciting prospects but inexperienced in senior rugby, so the next few weeks will be a big test of their mental and physical fortitude.
The loose-head slot is covered by Shaun Gunn of Edinburgh Academicals, Nathan McBeth from the Golden Lions academy in South Africa and Finn Hobbis of Watsonians.
“We’ve selected a youthful and talented squad which we believe has the ability to perform in this year’s Six Nations championship. We’ve chosen a well-rounded group of players and they’ve already shown throughout our training camp that they have the ability to pick-up and learn new plays quickly, which will be vital as we look to lay down an early marker in this year’s tournament,” said Scott
The 28-man squad consists of 16 forwards and 12 backs. All but three are set to make their debut at this level. The experienced men are McDowall and his Ayr team-mate Robbie Smith, who were involved in last summer’s Junior World Cup, plus Stirling County winger Logan Trotter, who missed that tournament through injury but was capped by the Under-20s against Italy during the last Six Nations.
Boroughmuir second-row Archie Erskine also went to the last Junior World Cup and sat on the bench twice without getting on the park.
Scotland squad for 2018 U20 Six Nations Championship –
Murphy Walker (Strathallan/ Dundee HSFP)
Shaun Gunn (Edinburgh Accies)
Nathan McBeth (Golden Lions)
Finlay Richardson (Edinburgh Accies)
Finn Hobbis (Watsonians)
Robbie Smith (Ayr)
Bradley Clements (Ealing)
Ewan Johnson (Racing 92)
Jamie Hodgson (Watsonians)
Alan Gregory (Northumbria University)
Harry Butler (Hartpury)
Dan Marek (Boroughmuir)
Martin Hughes (Heriot’s)
Archie Erskine (Boroughmuir)
Guy Graham (Hawick)
Devante Onojaife (Northampton Saints)
Kaleem Barreto (Marr)
Charlie Chapman (Gloucester)
Charlie Gowling (Stade Francais)
Ross Thompson (Glasgow Hawks)
Callum McLelland (Edinburgh Rugby)
Logan Trotter (Stirling County)
Kyle Rowe (Glasgow Hawks)
Sam Yawayawa (Glasgow Hawks)
Rory McMichaels (Glasgow Hawks)
Paddy Dewhirst (Ayr)
Mark New (Glasgow Hawks)
Stafford McDowell (Ayr)
- Find out about the Exiles in the squad here